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regular-article-logo Saturday, 25 May 2024

Super giant team Mohun Bagan bring home League Winners Shield defeating Mumbai City

Salt Lake Stadium erupts in joy as Liston Colaco and Jason Cummings score for the home team

Angshuman Roy Calcutta Published 16.04.24, 07:19 AM
Mohun Bagan Super Giant captain Subhasish Bose (left) and coach Antonio Lopez Habas lift the ISL League Shield after defeating Mumbai City FC 2-1at the Salt Lake Stadium on Monday

Mohun Bagan Super Giant captain Subhasish Bose (left) and coach Antonio Lopez Habas lift the ISL League Shield after defeating Mumbai City FC 2-1at the Salt Lake Stadium on Monday Picture by Santosh Ghosh

A crowd of 61,177 — the first time that many supporters from one club had crammed into the stands since the stadium was renovated in 2017. And with the Lucknow Super Giants captain KL Rahul in attendance, the Salt Lake Stadium was throbbing on Monday evening.

Mohun Bagan Super Giant did not disappoint. They defeated Mumbai City 2-1 to snatch the League Winners Shield and earn a berth in the AFC Champions League 2. This was the first time that Bagan won the Shield. Mohammedan Sporting won the I-League and the berth in next season’s ISL on April 6. It was Bagan’s turn to do the state proud on Monday.

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Add to that Bagan’s Durand Cup in September last year and East Bengal’s Super Cup triumph earlier this year, football in Bengal is alive and kicking.

Bagan needed three points from this match to pip Mumbai City at the post. And on Monday, Bagan fans came in numbers to root for their favourite club. Every move was applauded, every tackle was cheered and every time Mumbai City had the ball they were booed. Bagan players never felt so much at home. And Mumbai City? Last season’s League Shield winners felt intimidated by the imposing stadium and the fans from the very first minute.

As captain Subhasish Bose took the Shield from the All India Football Federation president Kalyan Chaubey ,the stands erupted in joy. The fireworks lit up the sky and showers of confetti filled up the pitch. Bagan would cherish their maiden triumph for some years. This was also Bagan’s first win against Mumbai City after eight matches. Mumbai had won six and two ended in a draw.

Monday was green and maroon’s turn to buck the trend. Remember the first leg on December 20 last year? A match which had a glut of red cards.This time, it was not that bad. Still, Bagan’s substitute defender Brendan Hamill saw the red card after a double booking early in injury-time.

Habas, who returned to the bench after missing three matches due to illness, had a clear plan. He asked his players not give even an iota of space to Mumbai City. It was not that the likes of Bose, Joni Kauko, Anwar Ali followed that to the T, but were impressive for most part of the game. The livewire as usual was Dimitri Petratos. He had two delightful assists and got the loudest cheer during the prize distribution.

The first goal was a beauty. Petratos played the ball to Liston Colaco on the left. Colaco fooled his marker Mehtab Singh with a swerve and then unleashed a right-footed curling shot which crashed into the far corner giving Mumbai City goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa no chance.

The stadium was on its feet and Colaco jumped over the perimeter board to celebrate with the fans. On the sideline, Habas exulted. Ten minutes before the first goal, Liston was unlucky when his diving header had hit the post.

Bagan’s second came in the 80th minute. With Mumbai City FC going all out for the equaliser leaving acres of space, Petratos, from the left, sent a ball across the pitch for Jason Cummings.

The Australian’s first touch was heavy but recovered in time. A deft right-footed placement into the far corner past a diving Lachenpa and Bagan fans’ joy knew no bounds. Nine minutes later, Mumbai City pulled one back through Lallianzuala Chhangte. Bagan held firm in the injury-time despite Hamill’s red card and when the final whistle blew the stadium was already painted green and maroon.

“Undisputed champions of India”, wrote chief minister Mamata Banerjee on X. “Congratulations” said sports minister Aroop Biswas. “Delighted and honoured,” was how team owner Sanjiv Goenka reacted.

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